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Home / About / History
5 reasons to study at Xaverian College

1. High Performing

Top 10% nationally for student achievement.  Excellent results at all levels, from Level 1 to University Science courses and in both academic and applied subjects.  Always above national averages.

2. Friendly & Welcoming

A genuine community where every individual is cared for and supported to success.  Our caring ethos is central to college life, and at Xaverian you will be welcomed into a diverse and exciting community that values every individual and an environment that will support you in every way.

3. Unique Campus

Set in the heart of Manchester and with a rich history going back over 150 years.  A mixture of new and modern buildings together with historic grade one listed buildings, superb facilities and lots of space makes this an attractive and successful sixth form college.

4. Teaching & Learning

Dynamic, engaging lessons delivered by enthusiastic staff, passionate about their subjects and their students.  Teachers providing extensive academic, pastoral and extracurricular activities to ensure students fulfil their potential and achieve their goals.

5. Raising Expectations

A college environment that seeks to prepare students for the next stage in their careers by fostering their maturity, encouraging independent learning skills and seeking to develop the whole personality.

Our History

Xaverian has in many ways changed over the last 100 years.

1904-1920 – Firwood and Sunbury Buildings

In 1905 Bishop Casartelli approved the Brother’s request to buy a house in Victoria Park. The property known as “Firwood” stood in two and a half acres of grounds. It had been built in 1871 by Alfred Waterhouse, architect of both Manchester’s Town Hall and Prison. It is today the only surviving “domestic” building by Waterhouse.

Xaverian College Bro. Gabriel Coene CFX, Provincial of the English Province, designed and supervised the construction of the new school building, a three storey block comprising dormitories, classrooms and day rooms.

The new accommodation was solemnly blessed and opened by Bishop Casartelli in 1907, and the school was named Xaverian College.

Bro. Benedict CFX, the headmaster set the tone for the school from the outset. At the first speech day he said “docility, obedience and hard work need to be maintained.” From 1911 to 1922 Bro. Bernadine Barry CFX was Headmaster. A Classics graduate of London University, he would later become Provincial of the Congregation in England.

In 1908 the house adjoining the school was purchased and this building, “Sunbury” became home to a new Preparatory School, St. Anne’s. The Prep was transferred to Wilbraham Road in the 1930’s where it remained until its closure in 1977 at the time of the reorganisation of the Catholic schools in Manchester.

1920 – 1962 Marylands, Ward Hall & Firwood Chapel

By the 1920’s there were almost three hundred boys in the college including sixty boarders. In 1922 Bro. Martin McCarthy CFX was appointed Headmaster, a position he retained until ill health compelled his retirement in 1956. Dynamic, controversial and an orator of no mean stature, his name will be inseparably associated with Xaverian College by generations of former pupils. During his many years of leadership he expanded the facilities of the College, purchased adjacent properties, raised educational standards and secured for the College the status of Direct Grant Grammar School under the terms of the 1944 Education Act.

In 1930, a new building project was begun that would see the extension of Firwood. This involved the building of what is now the common room (then a gym), classrooms above, and the new chapel wing which was dedicated to the memory of fallen Xaverian staff and students in the First World War. Here in the chapel, memorial tablets to Bro. Martin and Bro. Cajetan have been erected by the Old Xaverians Association.

The following year “Marylands” was purchased together with the extensive lawns. When war broke out in September 1939, boys and Brothers moved to Blackpool and shared the use of a school in the town, thanks to the generosity of the Christian Brothers. However, within the year most of them were back in Manchester. After the war, Ward Hall was purchased in 1949 and it provided for new and spacious dining facilities and accommodation for the first year boys.

Bro Martin was succeeded as Headmaster by Bro. David Watmough CFX in March 1956. Almost immediately, plans were drawn up for a new science building to house chemistry and physics laboratories. These were opened by Archbishop Beck in 1959. Bro. David did much to reorganise the life of the College bringing new rigour to academic pursuits, developing extra-curricular activities and laying the foundations for a very active Parents’ Association.

1962-1975 – Brother Cyril, Xavier and Redclyffe Buildings

In 1962 Bro. David was appointed to the office of Brother Provincial of the Xaverians in England. The Superior of the Manchester community, Bro. Cyril was appointed to succeed him.

It was under Bro Cyril’s leadership that the VI Form Block (now known as “Xavier”) was opened in 1965.

In 1966 a property on Lower Park Road was purchased and subsequently demolished with a view to development. In the autumn of 1975 “Redclyffe” was opened housing a sports hall, drama studio, and music suites.

1975-1996 – The End of the Grammar School, Therasa Quinn

The combined effects of changes in religious life following the second Vatican Council and in society in general saw a decline in the numbers of men and women who persevered in the religious life. Happily for Xaverian College however, the community continued to live in the midst of the school and until the 1980’s there were several Brothers active on the staff. Together with the retired Brothers they provided a tangible focus for the whole community of the College.

The year 1977 saw a momentous change in the life of the College. Direct Grant Grammar School status ended and Xaverian became a Voluntary Aided Sixth Form College for boys and girls aged sixteen to nineteen. That this transition was achieved at Xaverian with such ease and with such happy results was due to the leadership of Bro Cyril aided by his newly appointed deputies, Mrs. T. Quinn, Mr. G. Dewhurst and Mr. W. Riley. They, in turn, were able to rely upon a new staff which included most of the former Grammar school teachers and a large number of teachers transferred from the many Catholic schools in the city. It is a tribute to the community spirit and their love and affection for the College that the vast majority of these men and women very soon identified Xaverian as their home and remained there until the end of their teaching careers.

In December 1989 Bro. Cyril retired as Principal and Mrs. Teresa Quinn, formerly Assistant Principal, was appointed to succeed him. Bro Philip, the last Brother to teach as a member of staff at Xaverian College transferred to a new ministry in 1992.

1997-2007 – Ryken and Mayfield Buildings

In recent years Xaverian has undergone extensive renovation and building work. The Ryken building offers modern library facilties, an ICT resource room and the Art & Design Department.

Mayfield opened its doors in September 2006. Its contemporary design houses the faculties of Social Science and Business. Modern ICT facilties can be found throughout and courses such as Media Studies and ICT have specialist classrooms.

Plans are now underway to add further buildings and provide new student catering and social facilities.

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